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Male circumcision reduces HIV risk, study stopped early

A University of Illinois at Chicago study has been stopped early due to preliminary results indicating that medical circumcision of men reduces their risk of acquiring HIV during heterosexual intercourse by 53 percent.

The study's independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board met Dec. 12 to review the interim data. Based on the board's review, the National Institutes of Health halted the trial and recommended that all men enrolled in the study who remain uncircumcised be offered circumcision.

"Circumcision is now a proven, effective prevention strategy to reduce HIV infections in men," said Robert Bailey, professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health and principal investigator of the study.

The clinical trial, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Canadian Institute of Health Research, enrolled 2,784 HIV negative, uncircumcised men between 18 and 24 years old in Kisumu, Kenya.

Half the men were randomly assigned to circumcision, half remained uncircumcised. All men enrolled in the study received free HIV testing and counseling, medical care, tests and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, condoms and behavioral risk counseling for 24 months.

Study results show that 22 of the 1,393 circumcised men in the study contracted HIV, compared to 47 of the 1,391 uncircumcised men. In other words, circumcised men had 53 percent fewer HIV infections than uncircumcised men.

Until now, public health organizations have not supported circumcision as a method of HIV prevention due to a lack of randomized controlled trials.

"With these findings, the evidence is now available for donor and normative agencies, like WHO and UNAIDS, to actively promote circumcision in a safe context and along with other HIV prevention strategies," Bailey said.

"Circumcision cannot be a stand-alone intervention. It has to be integrated with all the other things
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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
13-Dec-2006


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